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Mandela dons prison number for AIDS campaign
Updated: 2004-11-26 08:46

Nelson Mandela, South Africa's former president and apartheid hero, donned his former prison identification number 46664 for a fundraising event aimed at fighting the AIDS/HIV epidemic.

Pop musician Annie Lennox (centre R) embraces Nelson Mandela (C) while Peter Gabriel (L) and Yusuf Islam (R) look on during the launch of a photographic book. [AFP]
The 86-year-old Mandela, wearing 46664 on a black shirt, oversaw the launch of the book "46664: The Concert", a book of photographs taken at an AIDS benefit concert last year.

"This book is a record of that amazing night... that raised awareness and inspired the fight against AIDS," the Nobel peace prize winner told a London audience.

He was joined at the event by British music stars Annie Lennox, Brian May from the group Queen, Peter Gabriel and Yusuf Islam, formerly known as Cat Stevens.

Mandela has lent his prison number 46664 to AIDS campaigns, for the first time last November at the rock concert in Cape Town.

"Not only governments and the drug companies, but we too have a responsibility to act. Each of us must do more. Do more to educate each other about the facts of infection and how to prevent it," he told the London book launch.

"We are all leaders now, and good leaders must lead. The fact is that every HIV infection can be prevented and every AIDS case can be treated."

Mandela, the world's most respected statesman, is also fighting legally to keep his name and his number from being used by businesses that have nothing to do with him or the AIDS campaign.

Mandela's foundation recently discovered, when trying to obtain a telephone number with the 46664 digits, that a Johannesburg-based coin dealer Investgold ICC had already beaten them to the punch.

South Africa's first black president from 1994 to 1999, Mandela has also built a charity empire that includes his Nelson Mandela Foundation and two other smaller organizations, the Nelson Mandela Children's Fund and the Mandela Rhodes scholarship foundation.

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